When people think of sports and Columbus, one of the first things that comes to mind is our beloved Buckeyes. But this summer our city's attention will shift to a different sport -- bowling. Columbus will serve as host to Bowling's U.S. Open, one of the biggest bowling events of the year, made even bigger this year as the final game will be a "Battle of the Sexes" exhibition match that's sure to make national headlines.
The story of bowling fascinates me. After massive growth in the 1950s through the 1970s, bowling faced challenges as more and more activities competed for consumers' attention and disposable income. But over the past decade, bowling has seen an incredible resurgence as our country rediscovered this great American pastime and GoBowling.com reports that bowling is now the nation's number one participatory sport with 71 million people taking to the lanes every year.
Think about it. During a time when there are so many distractions -- on demand TV programs, video games and mobile online devices -- people are taking time to enjoy the camaraderie and fun that comes with bowling. And even more interesting is that bowling is a sport and a game that is gender neutral -- just look at the U.S. Open and the "Battle of the Sexes" competition.
This rediscovery of bowling resonates deeply with me and aligns with my own vision for the great American city of Columbus. We like to call Columbus the "Discovery City" and urge people to "Experience ColumbUS" -- we are a city that is warm and welcoming with great dining, attractions and sites. We also like to talk about neighborhood pride - setting our goals very high by aiming to build the best city in the nation to live, work and raise a family. The strength of our foundation is our neighborhoods -- and this is what bowling is all about -- creating a community hub where people can gather, have fun and create memories in a safe and clean environment.
This also aligns with our Capital Kids program, which is focused on providing kids with a safe place to learn and play when school is out. I can't think of a better or more wholesome activity for kids than bowling.
For me the arrival of Bowling's U.S. Open in Columbus is about more than hosting a great sports competition. It is about rediscovery -- our nation's rediscovery of the great American pastime of bowling. And this reflects another rediscovery that is occurring in Columbus and cities across the United States -- the return of neighborhood communities -- the fabric that makes our nation great and is Americana at its purest.